Everything Else

I think the craziest thing about the borderline-traumatic deadline selloff this year is that despite fielding what is essentially a glorified AAA team with maybe a future piece or two, the Cubs still find ways to completely drop the ball offensively against other AAA-level teams around the league like the Minnesota Twins. The baseball that went on this week was bad, considering we did lose both contests, but nothing matters anymore and we’re just counting down the days until the season ends. Let’s break things down.

September 21, 2021
Cubs 5, Twins 9
WP: Barraclough (2-0) LP: Mills (6-7)
Box Score

Pitching? Defense? None of that existed today for seemingly either team, with eight runs scored in the first four innings of the game. Alec Mills gave up six hits and six runs. He also fell victim to hitting the deck in the 4th inning instead of catching a ball that was hit right at him, which has genuinely never made any sense to me. Is it really going that fast? Is it really hit that hard? A hit that barely made it to the outfield? You really can’t catch it? Am I in the wrong here?

At least Scott F-Ross made an attempt at catching a ball hit right over his head in the 5th inning. It was just a bit too high and ended up scoring yet another Twin, making the score 6-3. And a quick hit after that one made it 7-3. And by this time the game was all but over.

The Cubs tried their best offensively, with the team getting 11 hits (four more than they had in their win against the Brewers) and Trayce Thompson tying the game in the 2nd inning with a two-run dinger. A Willson Contreras dinger in the 3rd put the Cubs ahead briefly, but the Twins got a two-run lead just a half-inning later. The Cubs’ defense just couldn’t stop tripping over themselves despite some good hits in the bottom of the 6th by Rafael Ortega, Frank Schwindel and Patrick Wisdom to make the score 7-5. That would be the last run the Cubs would score of the ballgame.

Every time a few runs were scored by the Cubs, the Twins just scored a few more, and by the 7th inning they had a four-run lead they wouldn’t give up. Every Cubs pitcher gave up at least one hit, with the five bullpen guys pitching an inning each. Trevor Megill had an especially terrible outing with four hits and two runs scored. I will enjoy wiping this game from my long-term memory.

September 22, 2021
Cubs 4, Twins 5
WP: Ryan (2-1) LP: Hendricks (14-7)
Box Score

This game started out with Frank Schwindel making a big play at first base early, catching a line drive and immediately flashing the finger guns in true Schwindel fashion. Other than that, the story early was that our dear friend Kyle Hendricks was credited with the loss because he allowed two homers for Max Kepler in the 1st and 4th innings.

Nico Hoerner had a two-run single in the bottom of the 2nd to match Kepler’s RBI number for the game thus far, which was good because for a while there I forgot Hoerner was on this baseball team. Glad to see he’s still doing something. He scored Happ and Matt Duffy, who walked and doubled earlier.

The offense on both sides stagnated a bit outside of Kepler’s second homer that put the Twins ahead. But it was mostly the Cubs, who had issues figuring out Joe Ryan with Two First Names, the Twins’ starter, who was throwing some nasty pitches. Just as the Phillies did to the Cubs not too long ago, the Cubs allowed Ryan to strike out seven batters in a row. Ryan ended up striking out eleven Cubs in only five innings pitched, which brings me great pain to tell you.

Kepler almost hit his third homer of the game in the 6th inning, but it bounced off the wall as our prayers were answered. An error from everyone’s favorite second baseman Matt Duffy allowed Kepler to score and extend their lead to 4-2. The Cubs wouldn’t be able to score any runs until the 9th, where it was Happ who RBI’d Schwidel and Contreras who, with a weird play at 1st, RBI’d Happ to make the score seem a little closer than the game actually was.

With the bases loaded, Trayce Thompson struck out on three pitches, the last one being completely in the dirt, to end the game in true Javy Baez fashion. It’s almost like he never left?

The Cubs have a four-game series this weekend against the St. Louis Cardinals, including a doubleheader tomorrow. The Cardinals are red-hot, having won eleven games in a row, sweeping other teams grasping blindly at playoff spots like the Mets and Padres, and all but cementing themselves as the second Wild Card spot for the NL with the next-closest teams 4.5 games back. This weekend will be painful, because we hate the Cards with everything in us and the Cards will probably destroy us in the end. Another instance where turning on the football may be a more lucrative experience for you. Go Cubs go.

Baseball

In what was supposed to be a battle of bad pitching for this two-game series against the similarly terrible Minnesota Twins, the Cubs ended up winning both games with our own pitching holding things down. Not to mention it was a Joe West Production this series as we all sat and prayed that soon the season will be over and we’ll all be put out of our misery.

Despite there being a lack of offense for a majority of the series, the Cubs defense got out of jams when they needed to and held the Twins to only one run over the two games. Because there were no runs scored in 14 of the 18 innings I watched, there wasn’t a ton to review here, so let’s wrap this up quickly.

August 31, 2021
Cubs 3, Twins 1
WP: Rodriguez (3-2) LP: Gant (4-9)
Box Score

Allowing Frank Schwindel to homer off of you in the first pitch of the game is truly something else. A genuinely ridiculous way to start the game. But since nothing matters to either of these teams anymore, you can’t help but laugh at it all.

Zach Davies did…fine, I guess? He pitched 4.1 innings and allowed six hits, but only one run, the only run of the game. He also had three strikeouts on the day to put his ERA down to 4.91, which is still incredibly bad.

The middle of the game was incredibly boring thanks to the lack of offense. The Cubs’ fielders were able to help Davies hold the Twins to one run, which included a pretty nice sweeping catch by Patrick Wisdom at third base in the 4th inning. There was also a bases loaded situation in the 7th inning that Matt Duffy struck out to get the Twins out of the jam in true Matt Duffy fashion.

The bullpen actually did a pretty swell job. It was only Codi Heuer who allowed hits—three of them, actually, which loaded the bases in the 8th for the Twins (see below). Manuel Rodriguez got the win, continuing to impress. He, Adam Morgan and Rowan Wick allowed no hits in their combined 3.2 innings pitched.

Ian Happ continues to stay hot in the part of the season where nothing matters as he hit a solo homer in the 8th inning that was one of his longest ever. A half-inning later, it was the Twins’ turn to be in a bases loaded situation and Matt Duffy specifically decided he was going to make up for his blunderous at-bat earlier by catching a ball hit into right field and then throwing to home to tag a Twin at the plate to end the inning and the jam. Pretty impressive stuff, even if it is just the Twins.

September 1, 2021
Cubs 3, Twins 0
WP: Steele (3-2) LP: Ryan (0-1)
Box Score

The fun continued into yesterday as the Twins put on an even worse performance than the day before. It unfortunately came with Twins pitcher Joe Ryan making his major league debut. Despite striking out Ian Happ to start things off, he allowed an Alfonso Rivas walk (only his third game with the Cubs), an Andrew Romine double, and yet another Schwindel home run to make the score 3-0 Cubs. That’s it. That was the offense for the entire game.

Justin Steele started this game and got the win. He only allowed one hit and had three strikeouts in his 5 innings pitched. He also gave up three walks, something he should likely work on. Adbert Alzolay took over pitching for the rest of the game in his first relief appearance in about a year. He made things look easy with five strikeouts and one hit in forty total pitches thrown. Pretty good stuff, I guess.

The Cubs continue their garbage team tour with a series against the Pirates starting tonight. The Pirates continue to break barriers regarding how bad a major league team can be, despite the Orioles recently giving them a run for their money. They only have a .361 winning percentage and the White Sox pummeled them earlier this week despite coming off splitting a series with the Cardinals before that. Who knows what fun will be had this week and into the weekend. See you then to wrap things up. Go Cubs go!

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Twins 3 – White Sox 2 (8 Innings)

Game 2: Twins 3 – White Sox 5 (7 Innings)

Game 3: Twins 5 – White Sox 9

Game 4: Twins 7 – White Sox 2

 

Quite the weird and wonky series here, as the Sox and Twins split in every way possible, from the double header to the full 9 inning games. The Sox pitching staff (other than Lance Lynn) was pretty suspect here, with Dallas Keuchel and Dylan Cease not exactly having their best stuff. On the other end of the battery, you have two catchers who if you combined them might equal one Yasmani Grandal (but probably not), highlighting the need to perhaps add another catcher at the deadline for Rick Hahn, especially since catchers and knee injuries aren’t really compatible.

On the offensive side of things, this was a split as well with long periods of inactivity puncuated with a barrage of hits and runs. Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada are both scorchingly hot right now, with both of them smashing the ball to all fields. After the 1st game, things cooled considerably for Tim Anderson, with his 16-game hit streak coming to an end Tuesday night.

All told, the Sox gained a half game on the Tribe and kept the stupid Twins right at the bottom of the division where they belong. One would assume this would make Minnesota sellers at the deadline, because they have some quality pieces they can move.

TO THE BULLETS!

 

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

Game 1

-What a waste of an outing for Lance Lynn here. Other than one mistake in the 6th to Nelson Cruz (which has happened to a LOT of pitchers over the last 15 years), he was pretty dominant, only allowing 6 baserunners in the 7 innings he pitched. Fresh off his new paper from the Sox, Lynn did nothing to imply that Rick Hahn didn’t make an excellent move with the extension. He deserved a better fate, but if you can only manage 1 run in 7 innings it’s gonna be tough for any starter to get the W.

-Tim Anderson extended his hitting streak in the 3rd inning with another oppo dong off the guy from Mortal Kombat with the metal arms. Timmy is hitting to all fields with power right now, and honestly looks like one of the best hitters in baseball, except when he swings 3-0 with a chance to tie the game and popped out in foul territory. Stuff like this is going to happen when you have a free swinger, but overall I wouldn’t change anything about his approach.

-Garrett Crochet didn’t get any help from his defense or the reliever that came after him, ultimately taking the loss after Jake Burger had trouble making a decision on a Josh Donaldson chopper that loaded the bases. LaRussa went to Ryan Burr who got Cruz on a sac fly but then gave up a single to Polanco that scored what ended up being the winning run.

-Jose Abreu tried to drag the Sox back for the tie in the bottom of the 8th with a double that scored Tim Anderson, but was stranded there with a K and a pop out. Fart Noise.

Game 2

-The Reynaldo Lopez Revenge Game never really materialized, but he pitched decent in his return to the big club. He gave up a single to lead off the game, then promptly advanced the runner to 3rd on a pickoff throw that was never within 10 feet of Jose Abreu. One Donaldson sac fly later and he was down 1-0. He later gave up a dinger to Mitch Garver, but other than those 2 mistakes looked serviceable.

-Poor Matt Foster got smoked by a line drive off the bat of Min Kepler, but at least managed to deflect it towards Danny Mendick for the out. He stayed in the game and had another ball hit at him. Not a great night.

-Codi Heuer came in and pitched a solid 6th inning, and Aaron Bummer continued his Jeckyll and Hyde routine by looking infinitely better than his previous outing.

-Jose Berrios only made 3 mistakes on the evening, and those 3 turned out to be all 5 Sox runs. Other than Moncada, Abreu and finally Gavin Sheets, Berrios kept the Sox hitters off balance all night with his sinker while striking out 8. It didn’t matter in the end, as Gavin Sheets did this with a 4-seamer Berrios tried to jam him with:

Game 3

-It was pretty apparent at the start of this one that Dallas Keuchel didn’t have his A game. He labored through 5 innings, only giving up 2 but he had to battle the whole way. Min Kepler took him WAY deep in the 2nd inning after an 8 pitch at bat where Dallas was up on him 0-2, which was the theme of the night. Keuchel had no issue getting ahead of hitters, but was unable to put any of them away. I have no evidence of this, but it feels like him and Seby Zavala weren’t on the same page for most of the night.

-Brian Goodwin saved Keuchel’s bacon in the 5th with a diving catch on a sinking liner hit by Nelson Cruz that would’ve scored at least one run and quite possibly two. I once again am forced to applaud Rick Hahn for one hell of a pickup in B-Good. He also singled in Jose to give the Sox a 2-0 lead in the 1st inning that wouldn’t last.

-Jose Abreu is a goddam beast. He finished a single short of the cycle, which in and of itself is kind of mind blowing. He also lifted this absolute moonshot in the bottom of the 8th to put the game out of reach permanently for the Twins:

https://twitter.com/whitesox/status/1417688497037643777?s=20

-Michael Kopech pitched a decent 2 innings, really only giving up one mistake to (who else) Josh Donaldson, who smoked a 3-1 fastball about 15 rows deep. While Kopech didn’t have his A+ stuff, it was still good enough to get the job done. He probably could’ve gone one more, but TLR decided he wanted some Ryan Burr. The Twins did too, apparently because Donaldson singled on the first pitch he saw, then Polanco got to him again with a 2-run dong to (temporarily) put the Twins on top. The Sox’ options for reliable relievers in the 7th and 8th innings are practically non-existent, so Rick Hahn has quite the job ahead of him in the next few weeks.

-Andrew Vaughn came up big in his pinch hit situation in the bottom of the 8th, scorching a single to left center field that was hit so hard that Adam Engel nearly got drilled at home after he held up for half a breath before dashing from 2nd to home in a thrilling play to tie the game.

-Yoan Moncada is locked in. Beware.

-Billy Hamilton, ladies and gentlemen. After pinch running for Gavin Sheets in the 7th, he came up in the 8th with the go-ahead run on 2nd and 1 out. He didn’t waste any time, lining a single down the 3rd base line past a diving Donaldson to score Zack Collins from 2nd. You just gotta love how this guy plays the game.

Game 4

-While his stat line doesn’t look too awful, Dylan Cease didn’t exactly set the world on fire in this start. He threw way too many pitches again, and when he missed his spots it was right in the middle of the zone (see: Kepler, Min).

-Codi Heuer has once again highlighted the need for Rick Hahn to acquire bullpen help at the deadline. The inconsistencies of a very young crew has been exposed over the last few weeks. The high level at which the starters have been pitching covers up a lot of those warts, but when Keuchel and Cease have less than stellar efforts, the pen has been overexposed.

-The Sox hitters didn’t help much either, stranding 14 people on base and generally making Michael Pineda look like a world beater (he’s not). Leury Garcia hasn’t been great in the last 7 games, posting a .174/.321/.304 slash line with 9 strikeouts. The catching crew of Seby Zavala and Zack Collins have sucked out loud as well. Here’s hoping Yasmani has Eloy-like healing abilities.

-Billy Hamilton was a lone bright spot in this game, going 2 for 4 and directly being responsible for the Sox first run. He fired a double down the line, then promptly stole 3rd and was brought in with an Adam Engel grounder that Assbag McGee couldn’t handle by 3rd. Love it.

 

Next up is a weekend series up in the remains of Giannis-Town with some of the most marquee pitching matchups you could possibly hope for:

If that doesn’t get you excited for baseball, you’re clinically dead and I can’t help you. Granted, whenever you get exciting pitching matchups like this, instead of duels, you end up with an offensive explosion so I fully expect 56 total runs this weekend. Either way, should be fun. Take 2 of 3 and get the hell outta there.

Lets Go Sox

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Rained Out

Game 2: Twins 6 – White Sox 7

Game 3: Twins 3 – White Sox 13

Game 4: Twins 5 – White Sox 8

 

Josh Donaldson is a penis, and it warmed the darkest recesses of my heart to see the Sox respond to his borderline insane zoom interview/manifesto by pummeling the Twins pitching to the tune of 28 runs in 3 games. They drummed poor Matt Shoemaker all the way back to the unemployment line when Brain Genius Rocco Baldelli went Full TLR and left him out there to die in the 4th inning. It really was quite the spectacle, and I wish I could liquify it and then inject the solution directly into my brain.

TO THE BULLETS!

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

 

Game 1

-Let’s get this out of the way at the start. Lucas Giolito’s spin rate was waaaaay down in this game, with his 4-seamer missing about 170 RPMs off from his previous outing. It was also a very hot and humid night, with the dewpoint well above 70. Did this have an effect on his spin rate? Probably. That being said, it bears watching going forward to see if it was a one time thing or the new norm. The one K for the night also raises my eyebrows a bit. Gonna wait and see how the next few starts go before we draw any concrete conclusions.

-On the other side of the coin, something is very wrong with Kenta Maeda’s mechanics. I don’t know if he was tipping his pitches or what, but he was supremely hittable on Tuesday night. On top of that, he had trouble finding the zone, and when he was actually in it, the Sox beat the shit out of the ball. Sucks for him, good for us.

-Gavin Sheets, hello.

-Andrew Vaughn and his googly eyes are locked in right now. He’s seeing the ball very well (duh), and most importantly making contact against right handed pitchers. We all knew he can punish lefties, but seeing that same swing against RHP now is exciting.

-Ryan Burr just keeps throwing zeros up there. Gonna need him now that Evan Marshall and Aaron Bummer have joined Eloy and the rest up in Sox Heaven.

-Liam Hendriks certainly made things exciting in the 9th, but managed to work around some bad luck and lock down his 21st save of the year.

GAME 2

-LOL TWINS

-The Sox had 7 dingers total in the series and 6 of them came in this game. One of which was the first career bomb from Gavin Sheets, which went an estimated 429 feet. The only one to top that distance on the night was Yasmani Grandal, who’s 447 foot blast showed up on our radar at work:

-Dylan Cease gave up a dinger to Donaldson (of course) in the 1st, but then settled down thereafter and went a solid 6. His 3 walks pretty much guaranteed that he wasn’t going any further than that, but with the bullpen in the state that it’s in you can’t complain about a quality start.

-Garret Crochet looks like he found the heat he was missing on his fastball, striking out 2 in his inning of work and touching 98 mph in the process. Good to see.

-Jose Abreu went yard with a piss missile in the 3rd inning, but still looked out of sorts. Dude needs a week off, and I’m legit hoping he avoids the All Star Game

GAME 3

-Carlos Rodon had more nasty stuff in this game, but ran into trouble in the 5th when the D behind him went into full Benny Hill Mode. Ultimately it cost him the W, but it was all worth it to have him stare Donaldson down when he K’d him with a nasty slider. Baseball is fun.

-Billy Hamilton is back and it’s beautiful. Dude smacked a double into left center field, then stole 3rd underneath a shitty swipe by Donaldson, then scored on a sac fly from Abreu in short right center.

-All was not fun and games, however, as Yoan Moncada hurt his hand on a slide into 3rd. Team is calling it a bruised thumb, and he’s expected to miss at least the series this weekend against Detroit. Realistically they should rest him until after the all star break, but we know that won’t happen. Unless…

-Jake Burger comes up and tears a hole in the universe at 3rd base this weekend. Regardless of how the kid does in his callup, it’s an awesome story for him to come back from not one but TWO torn Achilles’ ligament tears. He’s been mashing in AAA, but the Tigers pitching has looked pretty damn good recently, so I’m excited to see how he does.

-Michael Kopech came back for an inning and looked good enough to vulture the W away from Rodon after the D fell apart in the 5th. Gonna need him.

 

Next up is a weekend series against the Tigers in Detroit, where AJ Hinch has his squad playing much better as of late. They took 2 of 3 from Houston, then swept a double header against the Tribe to take 2 of 3 from them.

Their starting rotation has been pretty lights out, so the depleted Sox lineup will have their work cut out for them. Taking out the stinker in the first game against Cleveland, they’ve only given up 10 runs in 5 games. Tarik Skubal has been dominant since his 11 strikeout performance last series against the Sox, and he slots in Saturday against Dallas Keuchel. Casey Mize takes the bump Friday against Lance Lynn, and the fireworks on Sunday feature Lucas Giolito vs the undefeated TBD.

The Sox lead is now up to 5 games over the Indians, who have a series against the Astros pending this weekend. Good chance to get that up to 7 before the next 4 against the Twins. Get it done.

Let’s Go Sox.

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: White Sox 16 – Twins 4

Game 2: White Sox 4 – Twins 5

Game 3: White Sox 2 – Twins 1

 

It is the most White Sox thing ever that the biggest headline in a series where the Sox took 2 of 3 against their ancient rival the Twins is Tony LaRussa throwing his own player under the bus for smoking a shitty 48 mph ephus pitch thrown by a catcher into dead center for a massive dong.

I could spend hours talking about how fucking stupid the “unwritten rules” of baseball are, or how terribly out of touch LaRussa is, or how close he could be to losing the entire locker room, or how the “unwritten rules” shouldn’t fucking apply when the other team puts a second string catcher in to pitch. I could talk about all those things at length, but those have been gone over ad nauseum the past 2 days and I’m honestly just fucking exhausted with the whole thing. So instead I’m going to focus on the fact that the Sox have now taken 5 of 6 against the Twins, and just how wonderfully hilarious it is just how bad they are.

Also: fuck Rocco Baldelli

 

Numbers Don’t Lie

 

-Like most of you probably were, I was concerned when I heard Jose Abreu wasn’t going to be available for the series after his heroic dash home to win the game against the Royals last weekend. I assumed that the Sox were going to struggle to score runs in the series because of this. Well, I was 2/3rds right. Game 1 was an insane aberration where everyone who picked up a bat was smoking the ball to all fields. Game 2, the Sox were able to pounce on rookie pitcher Bradley Ober for 4 runs in the first 3 innings. For the remaining 15 the Sox were only able to scratch together 2 runs on small ball by Adam Eaton on Leury Garcia. Going into the series this weekend against the Yankees, they’re gonna need much more than that. Unfortunately they draw Gerrit Cole on Sunday, and he had his one stinker of the year this last week against the Rangers.

-Yoan Moncada went 4-8 with 4 walks in the series. He currently has one of the hardest hit line drive rates in the league and is seeing the ball better than he has in probably 2 years. The dingers aren’t there yet, but when you get on base at the clip that he does and hit the ball as hard as he does you’re more than willing to take the production while you wait for the ball to clear the fence.

-Lance Lynn needed 109 pitches to get through 6 innings on Tuesday night, though he had to throw about 20 extra pitches thanks to an Andrew Vaughn error and a no-challenge by Tony LaRussa in the 2nd inning. More of note was the fact that he only had 2 strikeouts on the evening, which is something that bears watching against a better hitting team.

-Lucas Giolito, welcome back! While his first inning was causing flashbacks to the Boston start, he settled down nicely thereafter en route to 8 innings of work with 11 Ks. Really the only mistake was the 4 seam fastball that caught too much of the zone for Nelson Cruz (and lets be fair, that happens to a LOT of pitchers against Cruz), otherwise a return to form for our ace.

-At this point we can agree that Dallas Keuchel is now the 5th starter on this team, as even Dylan Cease has gone past him performance-wise. Which is absolutely a good thing, as having a guy who can pretty much guarantee you 6+ innings in most starts pitching out of the 5-spot is the kind of depth that postseason teams have. Plus when you consider you’ve got Michael Kopech waiting in the wings to pick up the slack…wow.

-I think it’s safe to say that when people look back and wonder when JA Happ’s career ended you could point to the moment Nick Madrigal’s line drive cleared the wall in left at Target Field. He may pitch for another year or two, but just look at him. That’s the face of a man who watched his career get torpedoed by a ball that never got higher than 9 feet off the ground.

-I hope Yermin hits 60 more home runs this season, all off 3-0 pitches.

-Next up is a weekend series against the Evil Empire, which will be without Mike “Giancarlo” Stanton for the duration. Though they still have Aaron Judge, Luke Voit, DJ LeMahieu and the corpse of Brett Gardner to make up the difference. As mentioned above, the Sox hitters will also see Gerrit Cole, most likely on Saturday or Sunday depending on how Aaron Boone wants to set his rotation. The return of Jose Abreu would be quite the boon for the Sox offense, which has been getting by with the trio of Eaton/Hamilton/Garcia in the OF. It’s been OK thus far, but we’re all expecting the bottom to drop out at some point. Hoping Rick Hahn has been working the phones, as reinforcements will be needed before too long (AKA a month ago).

Let’s Go Sox

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Twins 3 – White Sox 9

Game 2: Twins 8 – White Sox 13

Game 3: Twins 2 – White Sox 4

 

What a wonderful start to the season series against the evil that is the Minnesota Twins. On top of that, the Sox have now swept back to back division opponents and won 8 of their last 10 games in all. Despite that run, Cleveland has gone 9-1 in that same span and is still hanging around one game behind the Sox at the top of the AL Central list. On the flip side is the Twins now sit at the bottom of Shit Mountain, 10 games behind the Sox tied with the lowly Tigers.

The Sox starting pitching has been carrying the load the last few weeks as the offense begins to heat up, so it was nice to see the bats pick up the pitching when Cease and Keuchel had a bit of a stumble in the first two games of the series. The 25 runs the Sox put up boosted their run differential up to +66, good for 1st in the entire American League, with the next closest team being Houston at +45. The numbers look even more impressive when you realize that the Sox are second to last in home runs. So all these runs they’re banging out are being done against the league trend of the Three True Outcomes™ style of offense. Whether this is an adjustment to the deadened balls being trotted out, or a move to a different style of hitting with Luis Robert and Eloy on the shelf I don’t know, but it kicks all kinds of ass.

TO THE BULLETS!

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

 

-Pitchers of the central beware, Jose Abreu is heating up. He had a killer series, going 5-11 with 5 RBI and his first triple in 2 years. He also added a dinger on Wednesday night, making that 3 in his last 6 games. You love to see it.

-We finally had the Billy Hamilton Game on Wednesday, as he went 4-4 with his first extra base hit when he legged out a triple and nearly caught Andrew Vaughn who went 1st to home and looked like I do after playing 30 minutes of tennis. While I don’t expect to see this again, any offense Hamilton generates is a complete bonus and should be treated as such. Good for him, as he’s a pretty easy guy to like.

-Lance Lynn only went 5 innings Thursday and had to go get his hand x-rayed after a comebacker smacked into it. The x-rays were negative and he shouldn’t miss a turn in the rotation.

-Yermin is only batting .386 now, so I think we can all agree he’s a bust.

-Grandal had a very Grandal series, walking 3 times and going 2-7 with a mammoth 3 run shot in game 1. His OPS now stands at .717 with a batting average of .130 which is fucking wild.

-Ole Googly Eyed Andrew Vaughn smoked his career first home run in game 2. He’s now slashing .263/.380/.775 which is MORE than acceptable for a rookie in his first go round in the league. Especially one who thought he was probably going to be DH’ing most of the time, not filling in for Eloy in LF.

-Dylan Cease and Dallas Keuchel labored through their respective starts, though I will say that the Twins are one of the more patient teams in the league, and they forced the two of them in the zone more often than not. Keuchel in particular (outside of his start against the Reds) has looked very hittable at times. Something to keep an eye on.

-Next up is another 4 games against the tailspinning Royals, who have now lost 11 in a row after getting broomed by the Tigers this week. Kopech will be taking another turn tonight in the second game of the double header. 7 is better than 6 boys, keep it up!

Baseball

Twins VS.

 

Records: Twins 12-20 (LOL) White Sox 19-13

First Pitch: Tues/Wed 7:10 Thursday 1:10

TV/Radio: NBCSN and ESPN1000

Ted Talk: Twinkie Town

 

Probable Starters

Game 1: Kenta Maeda (2-2 5.02 ERA) vs. Dylan Cease (2-0 2.37 ERA)

Game 2: J.A. Happ (2-0 1.91 ERA) vs. Dallas Keuchel (1-1 3.79 ERA)

Game 3: Michael Pineda (2-1 2.43 ERA) vs. Carlos Rodon (5-0 0.58 ERA (!!))

 

Ahhh the Twins. The Nashville Predators of the AL Central. The team that has the talent to win the division year in and year out, yet is hilariously unable to win even a game in the postseason. It would be even more hilarious if it usually didn’t come at the expense of the White Sox playoff chances. This year things seem to be upside down, however. The Twins record currently sits at an ugly 12-20, good enough for 4th in the division while the Sox sit atop the pile at 19-13. The Twins, known these past few years for pounding the ball out of the yard (earning them the moniker of Bomba Squad) continue to be offensively gifted, sitting 4th in the AL in total offense right behind the Sox. The pitching is where it all starts going wrong for the Twins. They currently rank dead last in the AL for WAR earned by their pitching staff (the Sox sit 2nd behind NY), and are bottom 3 for all the major categories including K/9, ERA, and FIP.

The starters for Minnesota actually haven’t been as bad as the above indicates, as nobody expects Jose Berrios and Kenta Maeda to have 5+ ERAs for the rest of the season (though to be fair, nobody expects JA Happ to have a sub 2 ERA for the rest of the year either). It’s when the starters come out of the game that the pitching gets truly horrendous. The Twins bullpen is worth a collective -0.6 WAR, and has the most blown saves of any AL team thus far in the season, most of which came from Sox Sleeper Agent Alex Colome who’s 1-3 record with 3 blown saves has done more for the Chicago cause than anyone else on the Minnesota Squad. Anytime I see those stats, my complaints about the start for Liam Hendriks die a quiet death.

On the offensive side of the ball, the long awaited breakout for Byron Buxton seems to have finally happened. In the month of April he absolutely punished the ball, to the tune of a .370/.408/1.180 slash line and a hilarious 226 wRC+ rating. He also crushed 9 home runs and stole 5 bases, which seems kind of low for him but when all the balls you hit leave the yard stolen base opportunities tend to go down. Unfortunately for Buxton and the Twins, the injury bug that has plagued him his entire career reared it’s ugly head last week when he pulled up lame with a grade 2 hip flexor strain (sound familiar?) and will miss a few weeks at least while it heals up.

Nelson Cruz is still doing his thing, slashing .295/.340/.910 with 8 dingers. For a guy pushing 41 years old, that’s impressive as hell. He no longer plays in the field, so the Twins lose him when they head to NL parks (much like the Sox with the Yerminator) but when he’s at the dish there’s nobody on the Twins who can do more damage with Buxton out.

After Buxton, Cruz and Josh Donaldson (when healthy), the drop in production rate is pretty steep for the Twins. Miguel Sano, Mitch Garver, Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler are all under the .250 mark for average, with .480 the highest slugging percentage among them. Prized rookie Alex Kirrillof was called back up a few weeks ago (mysteriously after the service time deadline for another season passed. Weird) and went on a tear for about 10 days before he fucked up his wrist (and my fantasy team). They’re waiting on a second opinion, but season ending surgery is still on the table. Either way, both him and Buxton will be out from this series.

As for the Sox, they look to keep the momentum going on the pitching side of things after the triumphant sweep of the Royals this weekend where Rodon, Lynn and Giolito allowed a combined 4 runs the entire series. The offense did it’s part, banging out 29 hits and plating 21 runs in the series. The Sox jumped all over the Royals prized rookie starter Daniel Lynch by dropping 8 runs on his head and chasing him from the game before he could complete the first inning. The Yerminator had his first career triple on Sunday afternoon, hitting a ball in the gap that Michael Taylor tried to snag with a dive but ended up punting it into the corner. The Yerm ended up a home run short of his first career cycle, but seeing him chug past second for the triple was well worth my time.

Both Dallas Keuchel and Dylan Cease look to build off their excellent starts last time out against Cincinnati, going a combined 13 innings without yielding a run. Cease had his best outing possibly of his career, going 6 strong innings with 11 strikeouts. More importantly he was efficient with his pitches, only walking 3 (which for him is an improvement) and throwing 96 to finish the day. His fastball had more life on it than in previous starts, and he was accurate with it at the top of the zone. Keuchel was back to his old economical self, only striking out 1 but getting everyone else on the Reds to pound the ball in the dirt with his sinker, which looked the best it has since last season. Both guys are going to need to continue this trend, because despite the Twins being in a rut they still have the offensive weapons to make the Sox arms pay the price for mistakes.

Despite being up 7 games on the Twins, now is not the time to take the foot off the gas. I think we all know that the Twins misery is only temporary, and at some point the sleeping giant is going to awaken and climb back up the rankings. The 6 games the Sox have with them in the next 9 days is the perfect chance to put even more distance between them and Minnesota, and making that hole they have to climb out of even deeper. 4 of 6 would be an excellent start, 6 of 6 would be considered euphoric. Bury these fuckers while you have the chance…no mercy.

Let’s Go Sox

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Twins 1 – White Sox 3

Game 2: Twins 2 – White Sox 6

Game 3: Twins 5 – White Sox 1

Game 4: Twins 3 – White Sox 4

 

In a series that defined their season thus far, the White Sox took 3 of 4 from Minnesota to clinch their first playoff berth since 2008. With the top 2 offenses in the American League going head to head one would be forgiven to expect dingers galore were inbound. While the 4 games didn’t deliver anything jaw dropping in the box score department, each game had more than enough tension in it to give the series a definite playoff feel. More importantly, the Sox pitching staff was able to answer the call and provide the kind of innings that the bullpen sorely needed while the Twins pen crumbled in the end.

While the work isn’t done for the Sox, now is not the time to worry about what comes next. Now is the time to celebrate and be happy for Jose Abreu, a guy who has given everything asked of him by this team and now finally gets to reap the rewards. This tweet from James Fegan hits you right in the feels:

 

 

TO THE PLAYOFF BOUND BULLETS:

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

-As I mentioned above, the Sox starters (with the exception of Dylan Cease) were able to give the bullpen the kind of break they so sorely needed. Dane Dunning in particular was impressive in the 2nd game, adjusting his delivery halfway through his start and cutting the walks completely out of the equation. Even the much-maligned Reynaldo Lopez gave the Sox some quality innings today, making only 3 mistakes, and striking out 6. Maybe he should just avoid Byron Buxton from here on out.

-Speaking of Dylan Cease, his tightrope act continued as he walked 5 and allowed the leadoff runner to reach in every inning he pitched in, yet somehow only allowed 1 earned run. He’s like Keanu Reaves in the first Matrix movie, dodging a hailstorm of bullets for the first time. Basic statistics assumes that he’s going to crash and burn at some point, but maybe he really is The One and he’s immune to math. Either way, if you had to choose a 3rd starter for the first round of the playoffs at this moment…Dane Dunning would be that guy.

-Tim Anderson continues his assault on the AL batting title by banging out 7 more hits this week…and yet he lost ground as DJ LeMahieu went nuts the last few days. This one is gonna come down to the wire, but regardless you have to think TA has put the theory that last year was a fluke in a shallow grave.

-Eloy Jimenez is hitting the ball to the opposite field with power. When he starts doing that and pitchers can’t go low and away on him anymore, shortly thereafter they start flying out of the park to dead center. Wear your hardhats if you drive on the Dan Ryan.

-Nomore Mazara please.

-Adam Engel pulling back the bunt and slapping the go-ahead run through the infield was something the Twins routinely did to the Sox in the early aughts, and I fucking loved every second of it. VENGEANCE.

-Josh Donaldson is a fucking pudwhack and I hope his teammates dunk his head in a used toilet.

-Alex Colome’s numbers speak for themselves, despite him not looking like a nails closer. I’m just going to have to come to grips with the fact that he’s never going to have a 1-2-3 inning and just deal with it. That said, he wasn’t fucking around this week and deserves all the kudos.

-Cody Heuer, Jace Fry and Evan Marshall. They’re not exactly the shutdown bullpen you pictured in your mind when the season began, but they’ve turned the 7th and 8th inning into their playground and solidified what I thought could be a weakness going forward. They’ll get even more deadly when Bummer comes back, which by all accounts could be fairly soon.

-Next up is a three game stint against the Reds, which should also contain the 2nd career start of Jonathan Stiever which I am very much here for.

-That’s all for now, and I leave you with this #blessed image. Don’t stop now, boys!

Baseball

Twins VS.

Records: Twins 30-18/Sox 30-16

Start Times: Mon-Wed 7:10/Thurs 1:10

TV: NBCSN

Circle My Ass, Bert: Twinkie Town

PROBABLE STARTERS:

Monday: Jose Berrios (4-3, 4.40 ERA) vs. Dylan Cease (5-2, 3.33 ERA)

Tuesday: Randy Dobnak (6-3, 3.61 ERA) vs. Dane Dunning (1-0, 2.70 ERA)

Wednesday: Jake Odorizzi (0-1, 8.33 ERA) vs. Lucas Giolito (4-2, 3.43 ERA)

Thursday: Kenta Maeda (5-1, 2.43 ERA) vs. Dallas Keuchel (6-2, 2.19 ERA)

 

AND WE’RE BACK! After a brief hiatus to decide the future of the blog after Dale Tallon managed to Milkshake Duck his way into the Shitty Hockey GM Hall Of Fame, we’ve decided to just say “fuck it” and power ahead. Thank you all for patiently waiting for us to figure out the future of the blog, and I’m extraordinarily excited to keep being able to do this for the 38 of you that regularly read my shit.

What a perfect time to come back, as the Sox head into what might be the most important series of this entire screwed up year. With a 1 game lead on the Twins heading into this 4 game set, it’s imperative for the Sox to prove that they can do more than just pummel the Tigers and Royals 20 games a year. While it’s true that those are historically games the Sox would biff and ultimately cost them a trip to the postseason, with a playoff birth virtually in hand it’s time to show the rest of the league they can throw elbows with the top end talent as well.

The Sox come into this series on a roll again, having won 8 of their last 10 games and averaging just under 7 runs a game. While those are some gaudy offensive numbers, runs against the Twins pitching staff will not be as easily had. Kenta Maeda has been absolutely nails for the Twins this season, and is giving Dallas Keuchel a run for his money as “Best Free Agent Signing In The AL Central.” Jose Berrios has also rounded back into form recently, as he’s overcome his wildness in the beginning of the season and sports a 3.79 ERA with 48 K’s over his last 7 starts.

Tuesday night presents the Battle of The Bespectacled Batterymates, as Randy Dobnek takes on Dane Dunning. Dobnek has been another example of found money for the Twins this season, as he started out as a candidate for 6th starter but managed to deal his way up the rotation after Rich Hill turned out to be actually made of glass. He’s come back to earth in his last few starts, giving up 12 runs in his last 3 when he’d only allowed 6 in his previous 6 combined.

Wednesday’s starter is still TBA, but the assumption is Jake Odorizzle is going to be coming off the IL, much the same way the Sox starter for Thursday is TBA but everybody knows it’s gonna be Keuchel unless he has a setback. Odorizzi hadn’t been much to write home about even before he went on the IL, sporting an 8+ ERA, with his K rate falling to a career low 19.6% and batters hitting a cool .326 against him. While his FIP suggests he’s the victim of some bad luck, it’s still at 6.14 so there’s some fire to that smoke.

As for the Sox, Dylan Cease kicks things off tonight with his tightrope act of somehow having a 3.33 ERA despite the eye test (and his FIP at 5.95) saying otherwise. Ben Clemens at Fangraphs put out an excellent article today taking a dive under the hood and explaining why despite having such a great spin rate on his fastball, it’s not moving at all or resulting in any strikeouts.

The Sox are either going to need his luck to continue, or ambush Berrios right out of the gate. Both are possible, and a combination of the two would be wonderful. Getting 6 innings out of Cease is going to be necessary, as there’s no guarantee that Dunning will be able to eat any extra innings Tuesday, and the bullpen needs all the rest it can get, as Jimmy Cordero is about to collapse into a pile of ash.

It will be interesting to see how Lucas Giolito handles the Twins this time around. It’s his 3rd start against them, and the first two really weren’t anything to write home about. With the amount of preparation, and as cerebral as he is, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him have a different plan this week than the “fastball/changeup” pairing he’s been riding recently. If he can make it out of the 1st inning with 20 pitches or less, I like the odds of a quality start.

On the offensive side of the ball, fingers crossed Jose Abreu can continue his quest for the American League MVP, and Tim Anderson can stay ahead of DJ LeMahieu in the race for another batting title. It also seems as though Yoan Moncada is starting to shake off some of the COVID effects he’s been dealing with over the past months, as his doubles power returned this last series against the Tigers.

Luis Robert is dealing with his first slump of the season, as he’s gone 4-25 in his last 7 games. While this is to be expected for a rookie, it would be nice to see him perhaps take a few more pitches in his at bats. When Nick Madrigal has a higher slugging percentage than you do over the last 10 games, it might be time to make an adjustment to your plate approach.

All that being said, as long as the offense can continue to hit the stitches off the ball they stand a good chance of at least splitting this series with the Twins, which at this point should be the absolute bare minimum bar for success. Time is running out on this bastardized season, and taking 3 of 4 from Minnesota would go a long way towards quieting the haters who say the White Sox can only beat up on shitty teams (and the Cubs).

 

And for the love of fuck, please don’t throw Nelson Cruz anything in the strike zone.

LET’S GO SOX

Baseball

BOX SCORES

Game 1: Twins 10 – Sox 5

Game 2: Twins 3 – Sox 10

Game 3: Twins 14 – Sox 2

 

 

Where to begin? The first series of an abbreviated season finds the White Sox with  1-2 record looking up at the Twins, Indians and Tigers(?!) after the pitching staff got pummeled to the tune of 27 runs in 3 games leaving the team with a cool 9.00 ERA. Reynaldo Lopez left Sunday’s game in the 1st inning with shoulder tightness, and my beautiful boy Eloy left shortly thereafter when he crashed into the LF fence attempting to track down a Nick Cave (sigh) grand slam. While this was a very inauspicious start to a season where the Sox have deigns on a playoff berth all was not totally terrible. For one thing, the Sox don’t see the Twins and their orbital battle station offense again until the end of August so there’s plenty of time for the team ERA to come back to earth. To the bullets!

 

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE

-Let’s start with the most pressing issue: Nicky Delmonico is probably not a major league starter in even the furthest stretch of your imagination. He went 0-9 with 3 strikeouts and managed to overthrow multiple cutoff men slow pitch softball style on Sunday. More damning for him was that in limited time Adam Engel went 4-6 against mostly right handed pitching and is automatically a defensive upgrade over everyone not named Luis Robert in the outfield. Leury Garcia will be in RF full time when the team stops fucking with Nick Madrigal’s service time, but until that happens I think Engel has earned the right to start. His last  month of the 2019 season carried a .286/.314/.571 slash line with a couple of dingers. It’s time.

-Speaking of Leury Garcia, his start at 2B on Friday night didn’t endear himself to anyone when his failure to turn an easy double play turned into 5 runs for the Twins. He completely redeemed himself with 2 dingers the next day, however, proving that baseball truly is a fickle mistress. He’ll be even better when he’s in right field so Robert doesn’t have to go line to line and play the entire outfield by himself.

-Since we brought him up, Luis Robert had himself an excellent first series. The first MLB pitch he saw in his career he roped a single to LF that had an exit velocity of 115.8 mph. He finished the night 2-4 adding a double. With Saturday being a little forgettable at the plate, Sunday he bombed his first career home run to dead center field off Kenta Maeda. That one merely had an exit velo of 114.4 mph. He also can run down pretty much anything in center field. The kid can not only play, he can fucking roll. It’s gonna be fun to watch.

-As mentioned above, the Sox pitching staff didn’t exactly slather themselves in glory this weekend with the exception of Dallas Keuchel. He kept the Twins bats off the board until the 6th inning Saturday, leaving the game with 2 on base. Steve Cishek promptly tacked them onto Keuchel’s ERA, serving up a cookie to Nelson Cruz that he did not miss. Other than that little blip Keuchel looked very solid, proving himself a great addition to a rotation that suddenly needs it.

-With a shitload of runs being scored across the league this weekend it’s pretty obvious that the 3 week mini camp was not enough to get most major league pitchers not named Bieber up to speed. I’m not super worried about Lucas Giolito yet, but a good start against the Tribe on Wednesday would alleviate a lot of that tension.

-Yoan Moncada dominated Twins pitching the first two games, which makes Renteria’s decision to give him the day off Sunday particularly puzzling, especially with a precious off day after the series against the Indians. If you don’t want him playing the field after returning from COVID that’s fine, but statistically speaking you’d rather have his slash line up there against Maeda than Jose Abreu’s.

-Next up is the team the Sox will be battling with the rest of the way for the expanded playoff spot, the Indians. Giolito and Bieber on Wednesday should be a good time, and the Sox should be able to take 2 of 3 against a team that’s not on the same offensive plane of existence as the Twins. Get it done, and move on to the Royals.